Thursday, July 03, 2008

(Updated) NM-03: Lujan Issues Fourth of July Statement

DFA Chair Jim Dean, Ben Ray Lujan at DFA's Campaign Training Academy in ABQ last month

Update: Ben Ray will be visiting these communities over the Fourth of July weekend:

Friday, July 4

  • 8:00 am - 33rd Annual Pancakes on the Plaza, Santa Fe
  • 10:00 am - Corrales NM 4th of July Parade, Corrales Main Fire Station

Saturday, July 5

  • 9:00 am - Las Vegas NM Fiesta Parade, 6th and University
  • After the Parade - Las Vegas NM 4th of July Fiesta, Old Town Plaza

NM-03 Congressional candidate Ben Ray Luja¡n issued the following statement in observance of the Fourth of July:

"As we will celebrate Independence Day with family and friends, we should also take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who fought for our independence, freedom and ideals. Our founders constructed a nation that values the rights, liberties and freedom of its people. They had a vision we continue to work toward today.

"The Democratic Congress recently honored the sacrifices of our soldiers with a new GI Bill that expands education benefits to provide a full, four-year scholarship for returning soldiers. Our soldiers and veterans have made great sacrifices and endured great hardship, and I will work hard to get them the benefits they earned and deserve."

I especially like this next paragraph, with a FISA vote due next Tuesday in the U.S. Senate:

"America's founding fathers also went to great lengths to create a system of checks and balances and protections against government infringement of individual rights. I encourage the Senate to live up to these ideals and oppose the domestic surveillance program recently passed by the House of Representatives. Our founders and our soldiers sacrificed too much to see our freedoms given away.

"This Independence Day, take a moment to remember why we celebrate and why we need to work to uphold the values and ideals of the nation's founders. Please be safe and enjoy the holiday. Happy Independence Day, and I hope to see you on the campaign trail."

By the way, the Luja¡n campaign is preparing to launch a new and improved website in the near future, to mark the switch to their general election efforts. I got a preview of the redesign and it's looking sleek, sharp and interactive. It'll be up here soon so you can see for yourself -- and get more involved in the Democratic push towards victory on November 4th, up and down the ticket.

Netroots Nation Coming Up
We're also looking forward to seeing Ben Ray and NM-01 Congressional candidate Martin Heinrich at Netroots Nation, the national blogger convention being held this year in Austin on July 17-20, 2008. Ben Ray and Martin will be participating in a panel discussion called New Mexico: Case Study for the Interior West:

The Interior West is an important part of the country for Democrats this year. New Mexico is the ultimate swing state in the region. It was the closest (in margin) in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential contests. Every Congressional seat is open in 2008, as is the Senate seat of retiring Republican Pete Domenici. The west has important regional issues: water, public lands, fire, remote rural areas, large Native American and Hispanic populations and more. Speakers include the Democratic candidates for NM-01 and NM-03.

Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich are True Blue New Mexico candidates. Please help them get elected with whatever you can afford in terms of dollars and/or time.

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July 3, 2008 at 11:57 AM in Civil Liberties, NM-03 Congressional Seat 2008, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hey Barack, Listen Up

Here's a video from Sen. Russ Feingold in response to the many messages he's getting encouraging him to keep fighting the dangerous FISA bill that will now be heard when the Senate reconvenes next Tuesday. He summarizes what's wrong with this bill, and says our letters, phone calls and emails are making a real difference in this fight. We need to keep up the pressure -- on our Senators and our presumptive presidential nominee.

As currently written, the bill would provide retroactive immunity to telecoms without their having to enter a court of law to try and justify their complicity with illegal acts by President Bush. Even worse, the bill would give unprecedented and wide-ranging access to all our international communications without a court overseeing the process.

How could any Democrat vote for such a constitution-shredding bill? Ask Senator Obama -- if he follows through with his stated intention to vote for the FISA bill with or without telecom immunity. Despite his campaign's previous statement that he'd support a filibuster of any bill that contained retroactive immunity, Obama suddenly seems to believe that the dangers of terrorism justify throwing our privacy rights and laws in the trash can. Can anything be farther from the truth or sound more like a Bush-Cheney-McCain punchline? Is Obama really no better than the likes of Rep. Steny Hoyer, who pushed this bill on the House side?

Tonight's Obama Meeting
We attended the Obama campaign meeting tonight at the Plumbers' Hall in Albuquerque and it was apparent that Obama's incredibly disappointing and dismissive statement about the FISA bill was much on people's minds. Obviously, the 60+ people who showed up tonight to touch base with the new field organizers and get certified as voter registrars are gung-ho Obama supporters. And yet the enthusiasm of many seemed subdued and unfocused.

There was a fair amount of whispering and muttering going on in the crowd about Obama and FISA, as well as a few other stances he's taken recently. Several people even challenged the organizers about Obama's upcoming FISA vote, saying they'd have a very hard time going door to door to encouage people to vote for Barack if he backed the bill as written.

Meanwhile, outside the meeting, clumps of people expressed their disappointment and confusion about the Obama campaign's recent tack toward the Dem spinelessness we've come to know and abhor. No, not more of that, please. We've had enough.

Danger Ahead for Obama?
If I were Obama or any of his advisors, I'd be more than a little wary about these early danger signals within the ranks of those who need to be passionate in their support if the campaign's field strategy is to succeed. I can't imagine any of us abandoning the nominee based on his wrong-headed FISA vote, his unnecessary criticism of Wesley Clark's reasonable remarks about McCain or other similar disappointments, but it sure would make it harder to nourish a healthy sense of enthusiasm for the work that's ahead. Or to dig deep to donate generously to his campaign.

Is Obama willing to risk that in order to try and avoid criticism from the fearmongering hyenas of the punditry and the right? Hasn't he learned the most important lesson we've learned from what we've endured over the past decade or more? The hyenas will attack in the very same way whether Obama toes their line or not.

WE know this. Why doesn't Obama? Maybe he'll start getting the picture from what's become the fourth largest group on  “Senator Obama­ Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity –­ Get FISA Right” is five days old and growing fast. Their mission statement says: “We are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill and lead other Democrats to do the same!” Click here to join the group, which currently has more than 9600 members. And read this by one of the folks who started the group. Here's a wiki that makes it easy to take action.

Much will be revealed next week. As Feingold says in the video, "I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you'll decide not to tear it up." Get it, Barack? Get it, Sen. Bingaman?

Let's keep up the contacts between now and next Tuesday and let those who are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law know we're watching and that we understand, very specifically, what's wrong with this bill. And with any Senator who votes for it in its present form.

P.S. As usual Glenn Greenwald says it all and says it well.

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July 1, 2008 at 10:45 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Justice, Local Politics, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 27, 2008

More on Bingaman and FISA

BingamanI posted about Sen. Jeff Bingaman's vote for cloture on the FISA bill yesterday, and received a response from the Senator's staff providing an explanation of the vote. According to State Director Terry Brunner, Sen. Bingaman "believes it is reasonable to debate the bill to allow it to be altered." In that vein, Sen. Bingaman has drafted an amendment to the bill -- designed to fix problems with the telecom immunity provisions -- that's currently being circulated in the Senate to garner co-sponsors.

A number of watchdog groups have signed onto a letter (doc) describing Bingaman's amendment and urging Senators to support it, including the ACLU, People for the American Way, Constitution Project, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The amendment "would delay the effective date of the immunity provisions in Title II of the FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 6304, until ninety days after an Inspectors’ General report on the President’s warrantless surveillance program and related surveillance activities is submitted to Congress."

In other words, Congress would have 90 days to decide, based on the results of an audit of the actions of the telecoms by the Inspectors' General, whether they should be granted retroactive immunity from lawsuits filed in response to the telecoms' cooperation with the federal government. If the audit revealed conduct that Congress felt should not be immunized, it would have time to act to "adjust the immunity provisions."

As it stands, the FISA bill grants retroactive immunity to telecoms before the Inspectors' General audit is complete, "before Congress knows what conduct it is immunizing."

Brunner also provided a reminder that Sen. Bingaman voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, voted against the early ’08 Senate FISA bill and has "spoken out against it every time it has come before the Senate."

FISA Vote Delayed to July 8
Senators Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd worked with the Senate leadership to delay the Senate floor debate and vote on the FISA bill until the Senators return to DC on July 8th, after the Independence Day recess. Feingold and Dodd have said they'll introduce an amendment to strip the FISA legislation of telecom immunity in its entirety. A Feingold email says:

I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people.

"It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation."

It's been confirmed that Bingaman's amendment will be one of only three to be considered when the FISA bill comes up, including the the one from Feingold/Dodd and another I haven't heard about yet.

Activists are being urged to contact their Senators and/or talk to them at events where they appear during the holiday recess. One suggestion is that they be urged to actually read the bill.

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June 27, 2008 at 10:05 AM in Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

(Updated) Bingaman Votes for Cloture on FISA

UPDATE: Also see my later post on this that includes a response from Sen. Bingaman's staff.
Given Sen. Jeff Bingaman's recent cave-in on offshore drilling, I'm not surprised he's again taking what he apparently believes is the politically easy way out on the surveillance state. Even so, I'm still disappointed that Bingaman voted yesterday evening for cloture on the so-called FISA "compromise" bill that was passed previously by the U.S. House.

The cloture measure passed with 80 Senators voting yes, 15 voting no and 5 abstaining or absent. A total of 31 Democratic Senators and 48 Republican Senators and Joseph Lieberman voted for cloture on the Motion to Proceed with the FISA bill. The list of Dems with spines and a genuine respect for the U.S. Constitution, its Amendments and accountabilty for lawbreaking is short indeed:

NAYs ---15
Biden (D-DE)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Wyden (D-OR)

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain didn't believe the vote was important enough to show up and take a stand:

Not Voting - 5
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Kennedy (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
Obama (D-IL)

What Comes Next
I imagine that a significant number of Dem Senators who voted for cloture will eventually vote against the bill itself, thus attempting to have their cake and eat it too. We all know by now how this works, having seen the same thing happen in any number or previous Dem collapses in the Senate. The best time to defeat a bill like this, given the current makeup of the Senate, is at the cloture stage -- by making sure the bill doesn't get the 60 votes needed to go forward. Once it gets to the Senate floor, we've pretty much lost the power to significantly change or defeat it. Even so, Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold are still threatening a filibuster if the telecom immunity is left intact.

It seems obvious to me that too many Dems just want to get this controversial issue off the table so they can concentrate on election season rhetoric without the "distraction" of issues like illegal domestic surveillance and a "unitary presidency" power grab by Bush et al. As you may recall, they took a similar stance on the vote on the invasion of Iraq. Their position then and now: Get it out of the way so we don't have to answer the eternal whining from the right about being "soft on security" and we can move on to discuss economic issues. They don't seem to get that the eternal nature of the GOP whining means it will go on regardless of whether there's an issue on the table or how Dems vote. That they still haven't gotten this lesson is almost beyond comprehension at this point.

See this post by mcjoan on Daily Kos for a rundown on newspaper editorial board coverage of the Dems' cave-in. It isn't pretty.

A Counter View: Bait and Switch
For a view that's counter to what I've just written, see A Pragmatist's View on FISA by a former criminal defense appellate attorney on Kos. Her main point is that our Fourth Amendment rights are already entirely compromised by provisions in the Patriot Act that keep FISA court documents secret. Thus the current FISA bill is essentially meaningless and it would be a mistake for Obama and other Dems to draw a line in the sand about it at this time. Quote:

In terms of constitutional safeguards, the current FISA bill is a non-issue.  Yes, it allows telecoms to raise "color of law" immunity as an affirmative, threshhold defense.  And yes, that means the telecoms very likely will never be held to account for violations of FISA.  But the secrecy of FISA warrants themselves voids the Fourth Amendment, if information gained from those warrants can be used in a criminal trial.

I'm convinced that Barack Obama recognizes this.  I'm sure he recognizes that this bill is a classic political bait-and-switch, wrapping telecom immunity in the mantle of "safeguarding our constitutional rights," when in fact those rights are already voided by use of secret, non-reviewable FISA warrants to gather information for criminal cases.  I'm sure Barack Obama realizes that this petty knoll is not "the hill to die on."

"The hill to die on" is the USAPA's breaking down the wall of separation between intelligence-gathering and criminal investigation.  And that is not even at issue yet.  We'll need a Democratic president, and at least 60 Democratic senators, to fight that battle.

So please, folks, let's keep this bill in context.  If you're counting on FISA to safeguard your Fourth Amendment rights ... they're already gone.

Maybe she's right. What do you think? To get even more confused, read Sen. Russ Feingold's floor statement from yesterday's session. I don't see a statement about Bingaman's FISA vote on his Senate website.

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June 26, 2008 at 12:03 PM in Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Unacceptable: Call Obama on FISA and Telecom Immunity

That didn't take long. Our presumptive nominee is already apparently reneging on a promise he made to the electorate. Back in October 2007, Bill Burton of Obama's campaign TPM Election Central that Obama would filibuster any FISA bill with retroactive immunity for telecoms. The exact words:

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

Fast-forward to last Friday and Obama's statement about the so-called "compromise" FISA bill passed by the House. He's says he's still against immunity:

[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

BUT, he also says he'll back the bill if retroactive immunity is still included:

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

Call the Obama Campaign
Don't like what he's saying? If this is the kind of double talk we're going to get from a President Obama, heaven help us. Let him know what you think by calling the Obama campaign and communicating in no uncertain terms why his position on this bill is unacceptable. MoveOn .

Demand That Obama Live Up to His Promises
Many other parts of the "compromise" FISA bill are bad enough, but the inclusion of retroactive immunity is incredibly craven and unprincipled. It's just one more example of the willingness of too many Dems to cave to corporate pressure and cower in fear that Repubs might call them "soft on terror." I guess they don't care if we call them unwilling to uphold their oaths of office that require them to preserve and protect the U.S. Constitution -- including the Fourth Amendment.

It's hard enough to stomach the DINOs who consistently vote with Repubs on issues like this. Now we're expected to work passionately for a presidential nominee who's already backsliding into Repub-lite territory and falling into line with the same old same old -- give up your civil liberties because it's too dangerous to preserve our constitution while there are terrorists out there. Hint: There've always been terrorists out there and there always will be.

You really should read Glenn Greenwald's careful and persuasive analysis of the "compromise" bill and why Obama should be strongly taken to task for his wobbly, too cute by half statement on it. His links lead you to must-reads too. Excerpt:

It is absolutely false that the only unconstitutional and destructive provision of this "compromise" bill is the telecom amnesty part. It's true that most people working to defeat the Cheney/Rockefeller bill viewed opposition to telecom amnesty as the most politically potent way to defeat the bill, but the bill's expansion of warrantless eavesdropping powers vested in the President, and its evisceration of safeguards against abuses of those powers, is at least as long-lasting and destructive as the telecom amnesty provisions. The bill legalizes many of the warrantless eavesdropping activities George Bush secretly and illegally ordered in 2001. Those warrantless eavesdropping powers violate core Fourth Amendment protections. And Barack Obama now supports all of it, and will vote it into law. Those are just facts.

... This bill doesn't legalize every part of Bush's illegal warrantless eavesdropping program but it takes a large step beyond FISA towards what Bush did. There was absolutely no reason to destroy the FISA framework, which is already an extraordinarily pro-Executive instrument that vests vast eavesdropping powers in the President, in order to empower the President to spy on large parts of our international communications with no warrants at all. This was all done by invoking the scary spectre of Terrorism -- "you must give up your privacy and constitutional rights to us if you want us to keep you safe" -- and it is Obama's willingness to embrace that rancid framework, the defining mindset of the Bush years, that is most deserving of intense criticism here.

I'm a big Obama fan and I think he has unique and much-needed talents that are head and shoulders above most of our recent presidential candidates. But I know we can't let him get away with this spineless position on dangerous, unconstitutional and unnecessary provisions we've all been fighting to stop since at least last summer. I think we have to stand strong now and let him know we won't stand for more hypocritical business as usual -- especially from a candidate who's running on turning the page on fearmongering and fakery.

Tom Udall, our Senate candidate, voted against the House "compromise" FISA bill. Should Obama be allowed to get away with refusing to do what's right? He's our presidential nominee -- he should be leading the fight against the FISA sellout, not capitulating to it.

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June 22, 2008 at 03:32 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Martinlyon1 Martinlyon2
Martinlyon3 Martinlyon4
Click on photos for larger images.

First the "spouses for life." Later the cruel reactions. Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84, who have been a couple for 55 years, were among the first same-sex partners to legally exchange marriage vows in California Monday.

Del and Phyllis were pioneering lesbians and feminists. Even I can't truly know what they went through in the early days of their relationship, although it was still very brutal when I had my first gay relationship in the late 60s. In 1955, Martin, Lyon and six other lesbian women formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization in the United States. Lyon was the first editor of DOB's newsletter, The Ladder, beginning in 1956. Martin took over editorship of the newsletter from 1960 to 1962.

Within five years of its origin, the Daughters of Bilitis had chapters around the country, including Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, Detroit, Denver, Cleveland and Philadelphia. There were 500 subscribers to "The Ladder," but far more readers, as copies were circulated among women who were reluctant to put their names to a subscription list.

Martin and Lyon have been active in the National Organization for Women (NOW) since 1967. Martin was the first openly lesbian woman elected to NOW. Lyon and Martin worked to combat the homophobia they perceived in NOW, and encouraged the National Board of Directors of NOW's 1971 resolution that lesbian issues were feminist issues.

In 1972, Lyon and Martin published Lesbian/Woman, a book about lesbian life in modern America. I believe it was the first book I read about sexuality that was written by lesbians rather than a doctor or shrink.

You can read more about Del and Phyllis here.

And then there's the other side of the coin. See below for just a few of the hateful comments posted on AOL commenting on the gay marriage story by a few of the righteous. They are awful to read but I wanted you to get the full impact of what some our our fellow citizens had to say about equal rights under civil law. Which side are you on?

aharris442 11:09:23 PM Jun 16 2008
fagots and queers get married so there is no cheating they both either get mobey dick or puss in boots i guess all are happy HOPE ALL YOU FAGOT , GAY , QUEER , MORFIDITE IDIOTS DIE OF AIDS AND KEEP IT TO YOURSELVES you ever heard of sav the earth..... get rid of the idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!! presidents and fagots, and steers and queers well texans will be going to ca often seems all they make are stters and queers!!!!!!!!!! where the hell is justice!!!!

ebmatthew 11:17:49 PM Jun 16 2008

anakinljones 11:20:32 PM Jun 16 2008
Will you humpback old cobweb in the vagina stank senile hags come toss my salad? I'm not a lesbo but I love to have my salad tossed. Just because its legal don't make it right morons.............

cbetty953 11:23:14 PM Jun 16 2008
They are sick ,they should be sent to a head doctor and who ever passed the law should be hanged by his balls...

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June 16, 2008 at 10:04 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Local Vet Calls McCain Memorial Day Event in ABQ a 'Republican Pep Rally"

More on that below, but first watch Santa Fe Reporter writer Dave Maass take MoveOn's Bush-McCain Challenge at the Plaza in Santa Fe. The Challenge is happening in locales all over America today, drawing attention to the similarities between John McCain and George Bush. Hard to tell 'em apart, eh Dave? Speaking of the Santa Fe Reporter, you might want to check out their guide to the June 3rd primary election, which includes endorsements for all the Santa Fe area races. One, in particular, is creating some controversy. Can you guess which one?

Onward. Have you seen this story? Quote:

As he spoke to a Memorial Day crowd of about 1,000, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was joined by New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Steve Pearce and Rep. Heather Wilson, who are running for Domenici's soon-to-be-vacant seat.

[Bruce] Clark, a former Marine whose son Bradley Clark is serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, said he showed up at the event to protest what he called "this criminal war" and McCain's support of it.

But though it was a public event on public property, all signs of dissent were quashed by the heavy presence of APD officers and agents from the Secret Service, he said.

"We were very intimidated," he said.

Many of you may remember Bruce Clark's emotionally powerful and personal speech against the Iraq occupation and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution at last year's Iraq Summer town hall. He's still at it.

How very sad that the powers behind a supposedly public event -- not a campaign event -- refused to allow even veterans to exercise their constitutional rights to peaceable assembly and free speech. You'd think that McCain, who constantly proclaims how much he respects vets and what they fought for in terms of American freedoms, would be supportive of the constitution and free expression by veterans. Then again, how much is he really for the vets when push comes to shove?

McCain was absent when the Senate was voting on the New GI Bill that would expand veterans' benefits for college tuition. He was in California, at the home of San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos, attending a $25,000 a couple fundraiser for his presidential bid. Of course McCain doesn't support the New GI Bill anyway, preferring a bill he sponsored that would require members of the military to serve at least 12 years before getting the expanded benefits.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time McCain has voted against the interests of veterans:

As a veteran and former prisoner of war, Sen. McCain should know better than anyone the extent of difficulty our soldiers can face upon returning home after combat, she said.

Yet a study of Congressional voting records shows that, twice since the beginning of the Iraq War, McCain has voted against federal Veteran's Administration allocations that would raise benefits for veterans.

Go read the rest.

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May 28, 2008 at 03:14 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Last Day to Buy Tix for Equality Ball

Click on image for larger version

Do not miss out -- this is the last day to purchase your Equality Ball tickets. Tickets are going fast, do not miss your chance to attend this terrific event. Support Equality New Mexico as we continue our work in 2009. Click to view some of our Fabulous Auction Items.


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May 10, 2008 at 11:14 AM in Civil Liberties, Events, GLBT Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

DEA Ordered Seizure of Medical Marijuana from Paraplegic Patient

Priorities, priorities. Goon squads on parade in New Mexico.

From the ACLU New Mexico: CARLSBAD, NM - According to a sworn affidavit filed this past week by an Eddy County law enforcement official, the seizure of medical marijuana from a local paraplegic man, "was done at the direction of and under the guidance and control of the [Drug Enforcement Administration] DEA."  The affidavit, submitted by David Edmondson, Commander of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, which conducted the seizure on September 4, 2007, makes clear that the federal government directed local law enforcement to seize the medical marijuana of a patient fully authorized to use the medicine under state law.

"This is yet another glaring example of the federal government's improper obstruction of states' ability to implement compassionate and sensible medical marijuana policies," said Adam Wolf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project.  "For the DEA to co-opt local law enforcement in its misguided assault on medical marijuana patients is both callous and unconstitutional."

On September 4, 2007, at least four Eddy County deputies, acting as members of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, arrived at the home of Leonard French in Malaga, New Mexico. French, a paraplegic who experiences intense pain and severe muscle spasms stemming from 1987 motorcycle accident, holds a license issued by the state of New Mexico identifying him as a medical marijuana patient under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.

Assuming that the deputies had arrived to check his compliance with the state compassionate use law, French presented the deputies with his identification card and showed them his hydroponic equipment, including two small marijuana plants and three dead sprouts.  Acting under the guidance of the DEA, according to yesterday's affidavit, the deputies seized the equipment and plants and later turned them over to the federal agency.

The ACLU, which represents French in a pending legal challenge, says the seizure violated not only New Mexico's Compassionate Use Act, but also state forfeiture laws and a constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. French has not been charged with any violations of federal or state drug laws.

The affidavit is available online here. The ACLU's legal filing is available online here.

The New Mexico Legislature passed the medical marijuana bill during its 60-day Session in 2007.

See our previous post on the ACLU lawsuit on behalf of French.

February 17, 2008 at 01:22 PM in Civil Liberties, Crime, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Domestic Partner Bird Blogging: Happy Valentine's Day

Hambone and Ginger, sitting in a swing, k-i-s-s-i-n-g ...

We have new love among our parakeets -- our female parakeets. Hambone, the daughter of now deceased mom Whitey and dad Queenie, has allowed herself to be wooed and won by Ginger, our female lutino budgie. It was a long and sometimes rocky courtship. For many moons, Hambone didn't want much to do with Ginger, preferring to busy herself with toys and seed dishes. When Ginger would make an affectionate overture, she'd peck Ginger's head and make threatening noises. Ginger, however, was undeterred and persistent in her courtship. She had it bad for Hambone.

Recently, however, Hambone had a change of heart and the two of them can be found side by side most of the day and through the night, often sharing a swing, as above. Ginger feeds Hambone, as any good parakeet lover does with its domestic partner. She sings to her, kisses her beak, grooms her feathers and yes, makes sweet parakeet love with her. This is nature at work -- not the result of any propaganda from the GLBT parakeet community. Obviously, they don't consider it a "sin." Our other parakeets seem just fine with the arrangement, and grant Hambone and Ginger their space and their dignity despite the couple's obvious difference in orientation. No big whoop.


Unfortunately, that's more than I can say for some in the human community, at least here in New Mexico, where Legislators like Sen. Lidio Rainaldi, Sen. Richard Martinez and Rep. Gloria Vaughn hold my civil rights and those of many others hostage in order to uphold some distorted "scriptural" take on matters that are entirely to do with civil law. On this Valentine's Day, I hope lovers and partners whose relationships are granted respect, civil law authority and the full rights and benefits due them will consider the plight of couples like Hambone and Ginger, who are following nature's way as it manifests within them. After all, diversity is the norm on this here planet Earth.

February 14, 2008 at 10:02 AM in Bird Blogging, Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)